Honing my self-analysis skills with Will Fleming

I got the chance to have a chat with one of the guys who help inspire me to get into podcasting. I started listening to Will Fleming last year when he hosted the “My Kiwi Life” podcast. He pondered life with a bunch of interesting Kiwis. More recently I’ve got into his new podcast “Willosophy” where he willosiphises about life.

All up I reckon I’ve spent close to 40 hours listening to Will have conversations without ever having met him, or had a chat with him myself. It’s a strange dynamic talking with someone that you think you know, but you don’t. Thankfully Will had listened to a few of my podcast episodes so hopefully he was having similar slightly odd feelings. More thankfully Will in real life was exactly like he is on the podcast so it was easy to get into some great conversation quickly with no need for too much preamble.

Will is a content creator who has done some pretty deep self-analysis over the past few years. He told me in our chat that “very rarely do we stop and analyse who we are”, which he was guilty of as well. It took him a while to realise that he had tricked himself into playing the game of getting up, going to work and thinking that was all that mattered. Once he’d had that realisation, the self-analysis deepened. He tells me that he had had enough of living life on autopilot, that as he started to look deeper at himself and his life he found his eyes opening wider. He started looking at what he enjoyed doing, what got him into the flow state, and now he spends his time and energy trying to do those things and trying to get paid for them.

“I was only able to adapt my thinking base off the experiences I was going through. But those experiences I went through were only through me searching for those areas I could offer more value.”

Our thought patterns are intricately intertwined with our experiences and our actions. They all feed in to one another. This quote from Will really resonated with me as I’m having a similar journey. Will’s thought processes shaped his actions which then influenced the experiences that he had, these experiences then fed back into his thought processes, either reinforcing them, or allowing him to alter them in line with the experience.

This is something that is inherent in our nature as humans (at least in my thought processes, actions, and experience). Our thoughts influence our actions, which lead us to experiences, which then alter our thinking. It’s a cycle that we aren’t going to change, and it’s a cycle that we don’t want to change. It allows us to evolve as people and as societies. The problem occurs when we get stuck in a cycle for too long without change, we stick with what we are doing because it seems like what we’ve always done, and what we’ve been told we should always do. Our thought patterns have been reinforced to keep us taking the same actions, which lead to the same experiences, which reinforce our thoughts. I’ve been there before and I didn’t like it. However it’s only with hindsight that I realise that I was stuck in this loop, and that I really didn’t like it. At the time it felt normal to me, much like what I do now feels normal to me (but I enjoy it a whole lot more).

Even though we can’t change the cycle, we can alter the course of where it takes us. Some people radically alter it through an action or experience that they have. This has such a profound effect on their thought patterns that what they think and experience changes quickly, at times instantaneously.

For most people though, myself included, these alterations or evolutions occur much more gradually. It slowly dawned on me that I was stuck in this unhappy, unhealthy cycle, but to start with I couldn’t do anything about it. My actions and experiences were the same, which kept my thought processes the same. Habits are powerfully hard to break sometimes as well. Thankfully I managed to keep up the slightly uncomfortable questions about who I was and what I enjoyed. This slight shift in the questions I was asking myself shifted my thinking slightly. From this I was able to take a slightly different action from the one I took last time. This led me to a slightly different experience that then fed back into my slightly altered thought patterns. It’s a process that slowly shifted things to the point where I was able to change my thought patterns enough to allow me to take bigger different actions which have led to some pretty awesome different experiences. I quit my job, I travelled overseas, I bought a house (with my wife and the bank), and I got married. These experiences aren’t for everyone, but I’ve enjoyed them. It hasn’t always been easy and fun along the way, but trying to direct the thoughts and actions and experiences where I want them to go has always been rewarding. I’ve gone off in directions that I later figured out weren’t where I wanted to go, I’m sure this will happen to me again but it’s all part of the evolution process.

The more I’ve trained to alter things slightly whether it be a thought, action, or experience, the better I’ve got at it. I don’t know where it will take me, but I’m enjoying finding out much more than I was when I was stuck in my comfort zone doing the same things over and over.

“Even if it’s all for nothing, it’s still pretty awesome that it could all be for something”

Listen to the full episode here.